Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Underpants"

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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"The Underpants"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The latest show at Granite Theatre is "The Underpants", a farce by Carl Sternheim and adapted by Steve Martin. The show takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1910 and begins when the young and beautiful wife of an uptight bureaucrat drops her bloomers during a town parade for the king. Louise is a pretty, naive housewife whose frilly pantaloons accidentally fall while watching the parade. Suddenly, the room she and her husband want to rent becomes the most sought after place in town by men who saw the whole "accident" go down. A foppish poet and a nebbish barber, both entranced by a glimpse of her underwear, vie to become Louise's lover. Her new found fame terrifies her husband, thrills her busybody neighbor and brings out another surprise suitor as well as a grumpy old man who really wants to rent the room. The 7 cast members deliver their hilarious antics with German accents and one Italian accent, leaving the audience in stitches all night long with topnotch acting and direction.

Director David Jepson does double duty in this show, playing the role of the Italian poet, Frank Versati. He blocks and directs this fast paced farce very well, paying attention to every detail. David also built the two story set decorated in the early 1900's style with old fashioned ice box and oven. He wears a dark haired wig and uses an Italian accent while delivering his funny poetic lines to Louise as well as prancing about the stage trying to woo her. His real life Beth is the stage manager for the show and she also made the many colorful costumes including a German flag pantaloon. David LaRocque handles the lights and sound for this farce. Leading lady, Heidi Edsall is a hoot as the dimwitted gorgeous blond. She uses different facial expressions while talking to all the men who want to woo her. Heidi, a beautiful blond in real life, charms the audience with her coquettishness and her interactions with her overbearing husband and hot to trot female neighbor are comical, too. Heidi is headed to NY to become a professional actress and if this show is any indication of her talent, she should have no trouble making it in the Big Apple.

Geoff Leatham is hilarious as the pompous, chauvinistic husband who hasn't been satisfying his wife in bed because he doesn't have enough money to support a child. His bombastic delivery and pronouncements of how things should be done in a German household are wonderful. One of the funniest scenes is when Geoff appears in his long johns to have his way with a woman. Michelle Messina plays Gertrude, the upstairs neighbor who wants to live through Louise's sexual escapades. She makes every one of her comic lines soar with their sexual innuendoes and smuttiness. Michelle's German accent adds to the levity of the show immensely. Keith Brayne is a whirling dervish as the Jewish barber, Cohen, who says his last name is spelled with a K not a C. Cohen is a hypochondriac and thinks he has every illness under the sun. His funniest scene is after Louise slips him a sleeping potion, he tries to leave the table with rubbery legs, giving the crowd many laughs as he climbs the stairs. Harold Ashton plays the mean old man,Klinglehoff, who demands privacy in his rented room. Thinking he saw her at the parade, Louise pulls her dress up to expose her underpants when he shows his indignation, she quickly covers by telling him that he is having delusions. Harold handles this gruff old man with ease. Last but not least is Frank Pendola who appears as a surprise guest at the end of the show. He adds to the merriment of the evening, making for an enjoyable madcap romp. So for a look back at Germany in 1910, be sure to catch this high spirited farce at the Granite Theatre before time runs out. It's cleverness and wittiness will please you immensely.

"The Underpants" (12 August - 11 September)
1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1(401) 596-2341

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide